Main Streets Matter

Why Main Streets Matter

We all know where our Main Streets are, but do we know what they are and why they matter? Whether they are named First Avenue or Water Street or Martin Luther King Boulevard, what they represent is universal. Main Street is the economic engine, the big stage, the core of the community. Our Main Streets tell us who we are and who we were, and how the past has shaped us. We do not go to bland suburbs or enclosed shopping malls to learn about our past, explore our culture, or discover our identity. Our Main Streets are the places of shared memory where people still come together to live, work, and play.

So what is Main Street?  The phrase has been used to describe everything from our nostalgic past to our current economic woes, but when we talk about Main Street®, we are thinking of real places doing real work to revitalize their economies and preserve their character. Specifically, Main Street® is three things: a proven strategy for revitalization, a powerful network of linked communities, and a national support program that leads the field.

1. A Proven Strategy: The Main Street Four-Point Approach®

The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a unique preservation-based economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets – from historic, cultural, and architectural resources to local enterprises and community pride. It is a comprehensive strategy that addresses the variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional commercial districts.

2. A Powerful Network: The Main Street Approach in Action

Main Street is a national movement that has spanned three decades and taken root in more than 2,000 communities – a movement that has spurred $49 billion in reinvestment in traditional commercial districts, galvanized thousands of volunteers, and changed the way governments, planners, and developers view preservation. Over the past 30 years, the National Trust Main Street Center has overseen the development of a national network of coordinating programs that today includes 37 statewide programs, seven citywide programs, and two regional programs. These coordinating programs help cities, towns, and villages revitalize their downtown and neighborhood business districts. Coordinating program staff help build the capacity of local Main Street programs, expand the network of Main Street communities, provide resources and technical assistance, and work with the National Trust Main Street Center to explore new solutions to revitalization challenges and respond to emerging trends throughout the nation.

3. A Leader for the Movement: The National Trust Main Street Center®

Since its founding in 1980, The National Trust Main Street Center has been the leader of a coast-to-coast network now encompassing more than 2,000 programs and leaders who use the Main Street approach to rebuild the places and enterprises that create sustainable, vibrant communities.

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